March 5, 2014
|| #20/20 Memphis (22-7, 11-5) vs #15/15 Cincinnati (24-5, 13-3)
||Thursday, March 6 - 6 p.m. CT | Cincinnati, Ohio - Fifth Third Arena
|| How to Follow
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web
Television: ESPN (Dave O'Brien, play-by-play; Jay Bilas, analyst)/Memphis Comcast channel 23 Radio: WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host) Web: ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.com
The Last Meeting
January 4, 2014
No. 18 Memphis Falls to Cincinnati 69-53 in Conference Home Opener
The No. 18 University of Memphis men's basketball team (10-3, 1-1 American) was held to 33 percent from the field and was outscored 30-14 over the final 12:34 as the Tigers fell 69-53 to Cincinnati (13-2, 2-0 American), ending a 27-game conference winning streak Saturday afternoon.
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (22-7, 11-5 The American) takes to the road for the final time in the regular season Mar. 6 when it travels to Cincinnati, Ohio, to face the rival Bearcats (24-5, 13-3 The American).
ESPN is televising Thursday's 6 p.m. (CT) American Athletic Conference clash from Fifth Third Arena. The Memphis-Cincinnati game can be viewed via the web at ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.com.
The Tigers enter Thursday's contest having won three of their last four games. In that stretch, Memphis posted wins over Rutgers, Temple and No. 7/4 Louisville and dropped a road decision at Houston.
The Tigers remained in the Associated Press (AP) poll released Mar. 3 in the No. 20 spot. Memphis has appeared in all 18 AP polls this season. For a fourth-straight week, Memphis also remained in the USA Today coaches poll at No. 20. Cincinnati is ranked No. 15 in both the AP and coaches polls.
Memphis enters Thursday's encounter having won seven of its last 10 games. All three Tigers' setbacks in their last 10 contests were road games at SMU, Connecticut and Houston.
The Tigers are 5-4 in true road games and 8-5 in contests played away from FedExForum (away/neutral) this season.
Memphis returns three starters, but only five letterwinners from last year's squad.
Cincinnati is 17-1 at home this season, with the lone setback a narrow 58-57 loss to Louisville in the Bearcats' last game at Fifth Third Arena Feb. 22.
WHAT THE BEARCATS DID A YEAR AGO
Cincinnati posted a 22-12 overall record and a 9-9 BIG EAST Conference mark in 2012-13.
The Bearcats finished the BIG EAST Conference regular season tied for ninth place.
Cincinnati won its BIG EAST Conference Tournament opening-round game over Providence, before falling to Georgetown in the second round.
The Bearcats earned an NCAA Tournament at-large bid and fell to Creighton 67-63 in the second round.
SCOUTING THE BEARCATS
Cincinnati brings a 24-5 overall record into Thursday's conference match-up.
The Bearcats have dropped two straight and three of their last five. The three losses were to SMU, Louisville and Connecticut.
Cincinnati is 7-1 at home in league play. The Bearcats' average margin of victory in those seven wins was 11.1 points.
The Bearcats were picked to finish fourth in the 2013-14 American Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll.
Sean Kilpatrick was named to the 2013-14 preseason All-American Athletic Conference first team.
Kilpatrick is the Bearcats' leading scorer with a 20.3 average (first in The American). Justin Jackson is the squad's only other double-figure scorer at 11.0 ppg.
Jackson is Cincinnati's top rebounder at 6.9 rpg (sixth in The American). Titus Rubles is the team's second-leading rebounder at 6.6 rpg (10th in The American).
Kilpatrick is the squad's top playmaker with 74 total assists (2.6 apg), while Jackson is the team leader in blocks (86 total/3.0 bpg/first in The American) and steals (49 total/1.7 spg/sixth in The American).
Three Bearcats shoot over 34 percent from the arc in Jermaine Sanders (37.2 percent), Troy Caupain (34.6 percent) and Kilpatrick (34.3 percent).
Cincinnati is shooting 42.3 percent from the field, 32.9 percent from the arc and 71.5 percent from the free throw line.
The Bearcats are out-rebounding their opponents by a margin of +5.0 boards per game (36.6-31.6).
Mick Cronin is in his eighth season at Cincinnati. He has a 159-105 record at the school.
IT'S EARLY MARCH, SO ...
It must be time for a Memphis-Cincinnati game in conference play.
Or, at least, it was that way it was in the final four seasons when both were Conference USA members.
Also, when the two programs were Great Midwest Conference members from 1991-92 to 1994-95, Memphis and Cincinnati had a conference game in March three of those four seasons.
And, now it seems that the American Athletic Conference is continuing the annual Memphis-Cincinnati March match-up with Thursday's game.
In five of the 10 seasons Memphis and Cincinnati played in C-USA, they had an early March game five times (*NOTE: Two other match-ups fell just short of March -- 1995-96 game was played Feb. 29; 1998-99 game was regular-season finale Feb. 27).
The following lists the Memphis-Cincinnati March clashes since 1991-92:
Year/Date Site Result
2004-05/Mar. 5# Memphis 62-60, UC
2003-04/Mar. 6# Cincinnati 83-79, UC
2002-03/Mar. 1# Memphis 67-48, UM
2001-02/Mar. 3# Cincinnati 80-75, UC*
1996-97/Mar. 1# Memphis 75-63, UM
1994-95/Mar. 2^ Cincinnati 83-73, UM
1992-93/Mar. 6^ Cincinnati 78-55, UC
1991-92/Mar. 7^ Memphis 69-59, UC
*overtime #C-USA Game ^GMC Game
BACK TO NORMAL
In their four meetings from 2005-06 to 2008-09, Memphis and Cincinnati played as non-conference opponents, but in 2013-14, the two programs are in the same league, making them conference foes once again.
Memphis and Cincinnati became charter members of the American Athletic Conference July 1, 2013.
Prior to the four non-league encounters from 2006-09, the Tigers and Bearcats had met 63 times as conference rivals.
The series began in the 1967-68 season and every contest up to the 2005-06 campaign was a league game.
The two schools were members of the Missouri Valley Conference (1968-70), Metro Conference (1976-91), Great Midwest Conference (1992-95) and Conference USA (1996-2005).
HIDE YOUR EYES!
If fans are coming to Thursday's game to see three-pointers made, they may go away disappointed.
Thursday's game features the two of the worst three-point shooting teams in the American Athletic Conference.
Memphis is fifth in The American in three-point field goal percentage (33.8) and Cincinnati is ninth (32.9).
In three-point field goals made per game, both squads are in the bottom half of the league, with the Bearcats seventh (5.8) and the Tigers eighth (5.3).
BATTLE OF (SCORING) WILLS
Thursday's contest features a battle of scoring wills between Memphis and Cincinnati.
The Tigers enter Thursday's game with the league's second-best scoring offense at 78.6 ppg.
On the other side, the Bearcats have the conference's best scoring defense at 57.2 ppg.
In the Jan. 4 match-up, Cincinnati won the scoring-wills battle, as the Bearcats held Memphis to a season-low 53 points.
MORE ON THE LAST MEETING
The Bearcats' 69-53 win over Memphis Jan. 4 made the researchers go back in Tigers history.
Cincinnati's win ended a string of 13-straight, conference home-opener victories for the Tigers. The last time Memphis dropped its conference home opener was 2000-01.
The loss to Cincinnati ended Memphis' 27-game conference win streak. Prior to the Jan. 4 setback, the last time the Tigers lost a league game was Feb. 18, 2012, to UTEP (60-58).
The 16-point league home loss was Memphis' worst since a 25-point defeat to Cincinnati in the 1998-99 home finale (89-64).
The 53 points were the program's fewest in a conference game since Memphis had 47 points in a 74-47 loss at UTEP Feb. 26, 2011.
TIGERS' RECENT "SENIOR DAY" SUCCESS
Memphis has been rather successful in "Senior Day/Night" games -- and not just its own.
Since 2005-06, the Tigers are 15-1 record (.938 winning percentage) when playing their own and opponents' "Senior Day/Night" games.
Under head coach Josh Pastner, Memphis has an 8-1 record (.889 winning percentage) in those "Senior Day/Night" games.
The Tigers have won their last six "Senior Day/Night" games.
The following shows Memphis' "Senior Day/Night" games success since 2005-06:
Year Opponent Result
2012-13 UAB# 86-71, W
at UTEP 56-54, W
at UCF 76-67, W
2011-12 at Tulsa 78-66, W
vs. UCF# 84-55, W
2010-11 vs. Tulane# 66-61, W
at East Carolina 57-68, L
2009-10 vs. Tulsa# 75-53, W
at UAB 70-65, W
2008-09 vs. Tulane# 74-47, W
2007-08 vs. UAB# 94-56, W
at SMU 72-55, W
2006-07 at SMU 64-61, W
at UTEP 78-67, W
vs. Houston# 77-64, W
2005-06 vs. Houston# 69-62, W
#home "Senior Day/Night" games
TIGERS IN TOP FIVE/LOOKING TO MOVE UP
With its 82-79 overtime victory over Temple Feb. 22, Memphis secured a top-five spot in the league standings and an American Athletic Conference Tournament opening-round bye.
For the tournament, the league's top-six squads in the standings earn opening-round byes.
With their 11-5 record, the Tigers can finish no worse than fifth place in The American regular-season standings.
TIGERS LOVE THOSE DOUBLE-DIGIT WINS IN LEAGUE PLAY
With their 82-79 overtime win over Temple Feb. 22, the Tigers won their 10th conference game of 2013-14. Memphis' league record now stands at 11-5.
Memphis' 10th conference victory gives the Tigers double-digit wins in league play for the ninth season in a row.
The nine-straight seasons of double-digit conference wins is the longest streak of its kind in Tigers history.
Since 2000-01, Memphis has posted double-digit conference wins 13 of the 14 seasons. The only season the Tigers did not have double-digit wins in conference play was 2004-05 when they went 9-7 in Conference USA.
Over the last 14 years (includes 2013-14), Memphis has averaged nearly 13 conference wins per season (12.9 wins per season, to be exact).
MOST WINS IN FIRST FIVE YEARS
Of course, head coach Josh Pastner will pass on credit to the current players, former players, current assistant coaches, former head coaches and, yes, even Tiger Nation.
But, the fact is Pastner is the winningest head coach in Tigers history for the first five years.
The following shows the head coaches' win totals for their first five seasons since 1949:
Head Coach First 5 Years Wins Total
Josh Pastner* 2010-14 128
John Calipari 2001-05 115
Larry Finch 1987-91 102
Dana Kirk 1980-84 99
Bob Vanatta 1957-61 94
Wayne Yates 1975-79 93
Eugene Lambert 1952-56 87
*Pastner's fifth season still in progress
PASTNER AMONG NCAA FIRST-FIVE YEAR WINNINGEST COACHES
Yes, Josh Pastner is already the winningest head coach for the first five years in Memphis basketball history.
But, even Tigers fans may not know that Pastner's 128 victories also place him among the winningest head coaches for the first five years in NCAA history.
Pastner now holds the No. 6 spot on that list which is below:
Head Coach/Team First 5 Years Wins Total
Brad Stevens/Butler 2008-12 139
Everett Case/N.C. State 1947-51 137
Mark Few/Gonzaga 2000-04 133
Roy Williams/Kansas 1989-93 132
Jamie Dixon/Pittsburgh 2004-08 132
Josh Pastner/Memphis* 2010-14 128
Dave Rose/BYU 2006-10 127
Bruce Stewart/MTSU, 1983-87 126
West Va. Wesleyan#
Forddy Anderson/Drake, 1947-51 123
Mark Fox/Nevada 2005-09 123
*Pastner's fifth season still in progress
#half of his first five seasons were at NCAA Division I
TIGERS SENIORS GET WIN NO. 100
The Tigers' four-year seniors Chris Crawford, Trey Draper and Joe Jackson reached a milestone in Memphis' 60-54 victory over Gonzaga Feb. 8 with their 100th career win (Michael Dixon Jr. is a one-year senior and Geron Johnson is a two-year senior).
The Tigers' current four-year senior class has a 104-31 record (.770 winning percentage).
The following lists the top-five winningest four-year senior classes in school history:
Four-Year Class Wins
2005-06 to 2008-09 137*
2006-07 to 2009-10 127
2004-05 to 2007-08 126
1983-84 to 1986-87 111
2002-03; 2004-05 to 2006-07 111
2010-11 to 2013-14 104
DIXON'S "CLUTCH" FEBRUARY
When Michael Dixon Jr. transferred to Memphis in the summer of 2013, he and Chris Crawford quickly struck up a friendship.
So, Crawford won't mind if Dixon Jr. takes over his nickname, "Clutch" -- especially with his timely plays in recent Tigers wins.
The following details some of Dixon Jr.'s recent "clutch" moments:
Louisville/Mar. 1/72-66 win
Scores six-straight points from the 4:23 mark to 3:15 to cut a 65-57 Louisville lead to 65-63; his six points started a 15-1 run to close the game
Hits a FT with :21 left to extend a 69-66 lead to 70-66 and make it a two-possession game
Temple/Feb. 22/82-79 win (OT)
Hits two FT with :18 left in overtime to extend an 80-79 lead to 82-79, which was the final score
Rutgers/Feb. 20/64-59 win
With Memphis clinging to a 56-51 lead with under 1:30 left, swishes a three-pointer at the 1:16 mark to extend the lead to 59-51 and put the game out of reach
Gonzaga/Feb. 8/60-54 win
With the Tigers down 52-43, nets five points (trey, jumper) in a 7-0 Memphis run to cut the lead to 52-50
Hits layup with 1:12 left to give Memphis 55-54 lead; it was Tigers' first lead since 12-11 at 9:23 of first half
Hits two FT with :33 left to extend lead to 57-54
Memphis enters Thursday's conference match-up against Cincinnati with an 8-3 record in single-digit outcome games in 2013-14.
On the other side, the Bearcats also are 8-3 in single-digit outcome games this season.
Under head coach Josh Pastner, Memphis has been successful in single-digit outcome games.
Overall, Pastner's teams have a 47-23 record (.671 winning percentage) in games decided by single digits. His squads are 29-14 (.674 winning percentage) in games decided by five or fewer points.
The following charts Memphis' success in "close-call" games in the Pastner era:
Year 5 or Fewer Single-Digits
2013-14 3-2 8-3
2012-13 5-1 10-3
2011-12 4-5 6-7
2010-11 13-2 16-3
2009-10 4-4 7-7
Total 29-14 47-23
Pct. .674 .671